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Chicken Cordon Bleu

Serves 4
The cutlets can be filled and rolled in advance, then refrigerated for up to 24 hours. To dry fresh bread crumbs, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 200-degree oven, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Removing some moisture from the crumbs cuts down on splattering when the breaded cutlets are pan-fried.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 to 6 ounces each), tenderloins removed and reserved for another use, fat trimmed
Salt and ground black pepper
1 recipe filling (Filling recipes at the end of this recipe)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus ¾ cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, dried (see note)

1.
Place each chicken breast on large sheet of plastic wrap, cover with second sheet, and pound with rubber mallet, meat pounder, or rolling pin until 1/4 inch thick throughout. Each pounded breast should measure roughly 6 inches wide and 8 1/4 inches long. Cover and refrigerate while preparing filling.
2.
Place cutlets smooth-side down on work surface; season with salt and pepper. Fill, roll, and wrap each breast . Refrigerate until filling is firm, at least 1 hour.
3.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread flour in pie plate. Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon oil in second pie plate. Spread bread crumbs in third pie plate. Unwrap chicken breasts and roll in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, roll breasts in egg mixture; let excess drip off. Transfer to bread crumbs; shake pan to roll breasts in crumbs, then press with fingers to help crumbs adhere. Place breaded cutlets on large wire rack set over baking sheet and allow coating to dry about 5 minutes.
4. Heat remaining 3/4 cup oil in heavy-bottomed 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, but not smoking, about 4 minutes; add chicken, seam-side down, and cook until medium golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn each roll and cook until medium golden brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken rolls, seam-side down, to wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet; bake until deep golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of a roll registers 155 degrees, about 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing each roll crosswise diagonally with serrated knife into 5 medallions; arrange on individual dinner plates and serve.

Ham and Cheddar Cheese Filling


Enough to stuff 4 cutlets 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (about
1/2 cup)
Salt and ground black pepper
4 slices (about 4 ounces) thin-sliced cooked
deli ham

1. Heat butter in medium skillet over low heat until melted; add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer; set aside.
2.
In medium bowl using hand mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Stir in onion mixture, thyme, and cheddar; season with salt and pepper and set aside. To stuff cutlets, place one slice ham on top of cheese on each cutlet, folding ham as necessary to fit onto surface of cutlet.

VARIATIONS:

Roasted Mushrooms and Provolone Cheese Filling with Rosemary
To cook mushrooms, toss 10 ounces stemmed and quartered white mushrooms with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste on large rimmed baking sheet, then roast in 450-degree oven, turning once, until mushrooms are well browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Follow recipe for Ham and Cheddar Cheese Filling , replacing cheddar cheese with 2 ounces shredded provolone (about 1/2 cup) and adding 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary to cheese mixture. Replace ham with roasted mushrooms.

Gorgonzola Cheese Filling with Walnuts and Figs

Two tablespoons of dried cherries or cranberries can be substituted for the figs. Follow recipe for Ham and Cheddar Cheese Filling, replacing cheddar cheese with 2 ounces crumbled gorgonzola (about 1/2 cup). Stir in 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, 3 medium dried figs, stemmed and chopped (about 2 tablespoons), and 1 tablespoon dry sherry along with gorgonzola. Omit ham.

Broiled Asparagus and Smoked Mozzarella Cheese Filling

To cook asparagus for this filling, toss trimmed spears with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste on a rimmed baking sheet, then broil until tender and browned, 6 to 8 minutes, shaking pan to rotate spears halfway through cooking time.
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